Here's our New Hampshire wrap-up and analysis of winners and losers.
Clearly, the biggest winner is Hillary, because she completely defied expectations. (The pollsters didn't know Hillary's secret weapon, which we at the Curmudgeon will now reveal: between Iowa and New Hampshire, Hillary got a large monetary infusion from Mrs. Curmudgeon, which clearly put her over the top.)
EVERYONE said, based on unanimous polls, that Obama was going to win. The only question was by how much--would it be double digits? The question now is why, and how could the polls be so wrong? Hillary now has some momentum and has taken some of the air out of Obama's balloon. Meanwhile, Edwards is finished, so we're down to a two candidate race.
The rest of our winners and losers:
Pretty simple here. Hillary wins, Obama has a significant setback, but it could be only temporary, and Edwards, while he'll probably keep at it, is really out of it. This race will probably go down to Super Duper Tuesday on February 5 and be decided then. Or maybe a week later when Virginians vote--yea!
The pollsters lose. For the record, realclearpolitics.com lists all the publicly released polls for New Hampshire in chronological order. Of the last 20 polls in the state, all taken between January 4 and January 7, only 1 (Suffolk/WHDH) had Hillary in the lead, and that one by two points. We can't give that poll credit however, because that same poll had LATER results (yesterday) showing Obama up by 5 points.
Bill Richardson is a loser. He barely registered after spending a fair amount of time and money on the state. He loves campaigning and pressing the flesh, but he really should drop out now, lest he become a caricature of himself.
The press and the political commentariat is a loser, too--to a person they didn't see this coming. Now, they get to question the polls the rest of way out.
Whether the Democratic Party is a winner is yet to be seen. On the positive side, despite a disadvantage to Republicans statewide in voter registration, Democrats had about 40,000-50,000 more voters. On the other hand, the party is now looking at a drawn out fight that could turn divisive, rather than an Obama bandwagon that might have brought newfound enthusiasm to independents and young people.
It will be interesting to see how the independents broke. Obama may have been hurt by more of them going over to the Republican race at the last minute. Just doing a quick count of the numbers, it looks like about the same number of voters selected each party's primary (slight edge to the Democrats).
Obviously, McCain is a winner. If he had lost New Hampshire, his campaign would have been crippled. There were some signs in late polls that Romney might be coming back (although they said that in Iowa too, so we discounted it here), so McCain's people were a little concerned. McCain's margin of victory--5%--is just enough to make it a comfortable win, although they clearly were hoping for something a little bigger.
Now McCain has a shot at the nomination. But those predicting it's all his are WAY premature. This race is still wide open, with a lot yet to happen.
Another winner is Huckabee, who cinched third place with 12%, which was about the upper limit of what he could've achieved in New Hampshire. It demonstrates that Huckabee's people really do come out to vote. He'll have a shot in Michigan, will be formidable in SC, and has a good shot in Florida if his folks stay loyal and turn out like they have. Then, anything goes on Super Duper Tuesday.
Romney is a loser, but not as badly as the punditocracy thinks. He's had two strong second place finishes in a six man field. Yes, he spent heavily in Iowa and New Hampshire, but guess what--so did Thompson and Giuliani at one point, before they gave up. Romney can and will go on, although he'll need to shake up his campaign and run on a leaner organization (which might free him up to be himself instead of the Manchurian candidate).
Giuliani is a loser. Once again, he's out of the national spotlight with his silly strategy. Finishing fourth, barely ahead of Ron Paul, is not the stuff of a winner. We can guarantee you that whatever Giuliani is doing in Florida, it's overwhelmed by the headlines there about New Hampshire.
Thompson is a loser. He probably ought to suspend his campaign and endorse his friend McCain. But another option is to keep going, in a low key way and amass a handful of delegates and be an option for a deadlocked convention. We just don't think he has the heart for the campaigning--too bad he can't subcontract with Bill Richardson to do the pressing the flesh part of it.
Ron Paul is a loser--he really needed to get in the top four to be taken more seriously. New Hampshire is probably his high water mark. It will be downhill from here for Dr. Paul, especially after everyone takes a look at The New Republic's piece detailing Paul's history of racist and anti-semitic writings over the years.
The Republican Party may be a loser, or may be a winner. It clearly has a badly splintered electorate. If they decide McCain is the man they need, and rally around him, then the GOP may yet be saved. Absent that, it could be a long, hard and potentially disastrous year. Can anyone say 1964? (On the other hand, the Republicans may be happy--they'd clearly rather run against Hillary than Obama, although you should always watch what you wish for.)
The pollsters did a better job on the GOP side. Our pollster winner is: CNN/WMUR/UNH, which had McCain by 5%, had Huckabee in third by himself by three points, and had Giuliani and Paul tied, which is pretty much the way it played out. That's good for CNN, because it was our loser in Iowa. Our poll loser is Suffolk/WHDH, which had Romney winning and had Paul at only 5%.
And once again, a big winner is the commentariat, because every time the voters defy expectations, they give us that much more to write about!